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M6 Toll terror scare 'caused by electronic cigarette'

Staffordshire | News | Published:

A MAJOR terror scare that shut the M6 Toll today was caused by an electronic cigarette, Staffordshire police said this afternoon. Up to 40 emergency vehicles, including fire engines, ambulances and two bomb disposal vans, were sent out after the coach allegedly spotted a passenger pouring liquid into a smoking bag. It sparked a full-scale alert, with the entire toll road shut off for five hours as passengers were ordered off the bus at Weeford Toll Plaza and quizzed by specialist police. But Staffordshire Police said this afternoon there had been no threat to safety and the 'smoke' was caused by the smokers' health aid – an electronic cigarette that produces a vapour.

A MAJOR terror scare that shut the M6 Toll today was caused by an electronic cigarette, Staffordshire police said this afternoon.

Up to 40 emergency vehicles, including fire engines, ambulances and two bomb disposal vans, were sent out after the coach allegedly spotted a passenger pouring liquid into a smoking bag.

It sparked a full-scale alert, with the entire toll road shut off for five hours as passengers were ordered off the bus at Weeford Toll Plaza and quizzed by specialist police.

But Staffordshire Police said this afternoon there had been no threat to safety and the 'smoke' was caused by the smokers' health aid – an electronic cigarette that produces a vapour.

In a statement, the force said: "Today Staffordshire Police supported by multi agency partners responded to a genuine report from a member of the public.

"Given the credibility of the information we received, we responded swiftly and proportionately. We can now confirm that, whilst this was a genuine security alert, the significant concerns reported to us were unfounded.

"The information received concerned a report of vapour escaping from a bag which on investigation turned out to be a health improvement aid for smokers.

"It's important to state that no criminal offence has been committed and no passenger or any other member of the public is being treated as a suspect.

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"We would like to take this opportunity to thank passengers for their patience, cooperation and support.

"The coach has now been moved, the M6 Toll has now been reopened the passengers have been moved onto another bus and their property returned

"We would like to apologise for any inconvenience and hope that the public understand that we have our duty to safeguard public safety."

Officers had painstakingly searched the coach, which was carrying 48 people from Preston to London, and the entire motorway was closed.

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Passengers were sat down in lines on the road as they were quizzed by specialist police, while members of the military boarded the bus with a worker in a blue forensic suit.

Yellow inflatable tents of the kinds used in decontamination procedures were erected at the scene and groups of firefighters waited by their engines. The operation also caused chaos on the M6 after drivers were stopped from using the Toll road from 8.30am.

Queues stretched for 16 miles, exacerbated by an accident between Junction 8 for the M5 and 7 for Great Barr between a car and a lorry at 8.45am.

At 12.30pm, the blue Megabus was led away down the southbound carriageway from the toll booths, and was then escorted up the northbound carriageway towards junction T3 at Lichfield.

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